As we continue to explore the effect that app-based meditation has on physical and psychological health, we’ll update our findings here. Below are published research studies using the Headspace app.
A controlled study from Northeastern University suggests that using Headspace may increase compassion. Participants were exposed to a real-world situation involving a person in visible pain. After three weeks, those in the mindfulness group responded more compassionately, evidenced by giving up their seats more frequently than those assigned to the active control group. This preliminary evidence suggests that app-based meditation training may enhance compassionate behaviour in everyday life.1
In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers assessed the effect of 10 Headspace meditation sessions on aspects of well-being. Compared to a wait-list control group, those who practiced meditation experienced a moderate improvement in mood and a marginal decrease in depression. This preliminary evidence supports the viability of smartphone-based meditation training in enhancing elements of well-being.2
In an uncontrolled pilot study at the University of Chicago researchers assessed the feasibility and impact of the Headspace 10-day Basics program in volunteers from the pediatric residency program. Following 10 days of Headspace it was shown that a greater percentage of residents perceived mindfulness as useful and perhaps most importantly a greater number planned to discuss it as a therapeutic option with their patients.3
Bennike, I.H., Wieghorst, A. & Kirk, U. (2017). Online-based Mindfulness Training Reduces Behavioral Markers of Mind Wandering. J Cogn Enhanc. doi:10.1007/s41465-017-0020-9
Howells, A., Ivtzan, I., & Eiroa-Orosa, F. (2014). Putting the 'app' in Happiness: A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Smartphone-Based Mindfulness Intervention to Enhance Wellbeing. Journal of Happiness Studies. doi:10.1007/s10902-014-9589.
Laurie, J., & Blandford, A. (2016). Making time for mindfulness. International journal of medical informatics.
Lim D, Condon P, DeSteno D (2015). Mindfulness and Compassion: An Examination of Mechanism and Scalability. PLoS ONE 10(2): e0118221. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0118221
Mani, M., Kavanagh, D. J., Hides, L. & Stoyanov, S. R. (2015). Review and Evaluation of Mindfulness-Based iPhone Apps. JMIR: mHealth uHealth, 3(3): e82.
Taylor, M., Hageman, J. R., & Brown, M. (2016). A Mindfulness Intervention for Residents: Relevance for Pediatricians. Pediatric Annals, 45(10), e373-e376.
Johnstone, J. M., Roake, C., Sheikh, I., Mole, A., Nigg, J. T., & Oken, B. (2016). School-based mindfulness intervention for stress reduction in adolescents: Design and methodology of an open-label, parallel group, randomized controlled trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, 4, 99-104.
Noone, C., & Hogan, M. J. (2016). A protocol for a randomised active-controlled trial to evaluate the effects of an online mindfulness intervention on executive control, critical thinking and key thinking dispositions in a university student sample. BMC psychology, 4(1), 1.
DeSteno, D., Lim, D., Duong, F., & Condon, P. Meditation Inhibits Aggressive Responses to Provocations.
Lim, M. D., & Patterson, M. D. Investigating whether executive functioning, working memory capacity, & long-term memory can be improved by cognitive training.
Noone, C., & Hogan, M. J. A randomised active-controlled trial to evaluate the effects of an online mindfulness intervention on executive control, critical thinking and key thinking dispositions in a university student sample.
Taylor M, Hageman J, Brown M. Mindfulness for pediatric residents. Poster presented at: Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting; April 25-28, 2015; San Diego, CA.
Yang, E., Schamber, M. A., Meyer, R., Gold, J. I. (2014, September) Mindfulness Meditation for Medical Students. Poster session presented at Innovations in Medical Education Conference at the University of Southern California
|Institution name||Study title|
|New York University, Mindful education lab||Growth mindsets and meditation.|
|Turnaround for Children||Leveraging Skills and Mindsets to Promote Academic Achievement|
|University of Kentucky||The effects of mindfulness training on impulsive behavior in adolescent smokers|
|Kaiser Permanente||A pilot study of a mobile-based mindfulness intervention for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and their family caregivers within a large integrated health care system|
|Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology||Examining the effectiveness of two smartphone applications for improving symptoms of insomnia|
|Oregon Health and Science University||School-based mindfulness intervention for stress reduction in adolescents: An open-label, parallel group, randomized controlled trial|
|Emory University||The effect of meditation on stress in call centre employees|
|University of Exeter||Making Identity Matter: Evaluating the impact of social identity on mindful practice and related benefits|
|Maastricht University||The benefits of mindfulness meditation for authentic leadership: a field experiment|
|University of Surrey||Mindfulness and workplace outcomes: A multi-method evaluation of the Headspace meditation application|
|Monash University||Conquering Compulsivity: Re-training the Brain with Physical Exercise and Mindfulness Meditation.|
|University of Miami||Attentional degradation over the academic semester.|
|Royal College of Surgeons Ireland||Does mindfulness improve medical student performance?|
|Massachusetts General Hospital||Child-Centered Mindfulness App to Reduce Stress in Children with ADHD|
|University of Central Oklahoma||The impact of an app-based mindfulness intervention on anxiety in college students|
|Keck School of Medicine of USC||Can mindfulness reduce pre-operative anxiety in skin cancer patients?|
|University of Otago||Evaluation of a novel application of a mindfulness app for those with brain tumours: a feasibility study|
|UT Health Northeast||Can usage of a mindfulness-based smartphone app lead to greater reductions in biomarkers of anxiety and depression than antidepressants alone?|
|Birkbeck, University of London & University College London||Investigating the combined effects of a mindfulness meditation intervention and working memory training on improving attentional control and reducing anxiety and worry in adolescents.|
|University of Otago||Investigating whether Headspace results in improvements in well-being over and above that provided by treatment-as-usual in a distressed adult student population who are accessing Student Health Services|
|The Open University||Evaluating the effectiveness of a brief mindfulness intervention to reduce signs of excessive internet use.|
|University of Southampton||Investigating the feasibility of a mobile mindfulness-based digital intervention for patients with asthma (MOMA)|
|Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust||A Randomised Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Chronic Insomnia|
|Barts Health NHS Trust||A smartphone app using psychological approaches for women with chronic pelvic pain (MEMPHIS): a randomised feasibility trial|
|University of Sussex||Headspace as a PWP-guided self-help intervention for depressive symptoms in NHS’s IAPT program: A feasibility study|
|University of Sussex||A definitive randomised controlled trial investigating two online well-being interventions to reduce NHS staff stress|
|Research run by Headspace||Study title|
|Headspace||The effects of 10 and 30 mindfulness meditation sessions on happiness|
|Headspace||The impact of 10 meditation sessions on stress, mood and attention|
|Headspace||The impact of a single session of mindfulness meditation on affective state & cardiovascular variables|
1. Lim, D., Condon, P., & DeSteno, D. (2015). Mindfulness and compassion: an examination of mechanism and scalability.
PloS one, 10(2), e0118221.
2. Howells, A., Ivtzan, I., & Eiroa-Orosa, F. J. (2016). Putting the ‘app’ in happiness: a randomised controlled trial of a Smartphone-based mindfulness intervention to enhance wellbeing.
Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(1), 163-185.
3. Taylor, M., Hageman, J. R., & Brown, M. (2016). A Mindfulness Intervention for Residents: Relevance for Pediatricians.
Pediatric Annals, 45(10), e373-e376.